Being away from home and starting life in a new country can be difficult and many of our students experience homesickness at some point. It can help knowing that you are not the only person going through this and that there are many programmes, places and things that you can do to help. Two of our international students give their tips on what helped them to settle into life in UL.
Briana Dos Santos
Moving abroad, whether for work, school or just to travel can be complicated and pretty scary! Whilst I have settled in to my life in Limerick, it can still be pretty difficult when you start to miss home. Here are just a few tips and tricks for what to do before your exchange to UL, and during it to deal with homesickness and help you feel a little bit better!
- Make sure to bring something sentimental with you: This was such a big thing for me! I traveled for about two months before I started my exchange here so I didn’t have a lot of space for unnecessary things. But I did make sure to bring my favourite blanket from home, which is one my dad brought home from me when he came back from Everest. When I’m feeling homesick, I curl up in this, put on a movie and it makes me feel a bit closer to home. I also have a little quote my best friend painted for me!
2. Make a game plan: Before I left I had a chat with all the people I was closest to figure out how we could still easily keep in touch, whether that was going to be daily snapchats or a weekly Skype!
- Call them!! – whenever I’m feeling super homesick and missing my family or friends I always try give them a call, talk to them on skype, basically just communicate with them as best I can which always makes me feel better
2. Do something you loved to do at home: I brought back with me from Australia a huge can of Milo, which if you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a chocolate drink you can have hot or cold! Whenever I feel like I’m missing home I make myself one of these, which I had all the time at home! If you haven’t brought anything with you, even just watching a family movie or doing an activity you always did at home can help!
3.On saying that, make sure you take a break sometimes! Continuously looking at photos of everyone at home can sometimes make you feel worse! Take a break and go explore or talk to some of your friends here to give you a bit of a distraction!
4. Plan a trip: I’m at UL for a full year exchange, and I didn’t go home for Christmas. This was the first time I had spent Christmas without my family, so the homesickness was real around this time! But I spent this time exploring which made me so excited that I didn’t think about home all that much! I had planned a trip to Copenhagen in Denmark, which was super Christmas-y and cold, a complete opposite to the 40 degree heat I have in Australia! I was also fortunate enough to have family in England to spend the Christmas day with.
5. Exercise – This one is a bit of a hit or miss, but I have found that I often feel a lot better after I exercise, it gives you a good distraction and makes you feel good about yourself at the same time!
6. Try and accomplish something new! For me, this is cooking. I think the only things I’d ever cooked prior to my exchange was fried egg, toast, cereal and pasta, so I’ve really enjoyed trying out new recipes when I’m a bit homesick! One of the biggest things I miss is the café culture in Perth, so here was my first attempt at a homemade café breakfast!
The most important thing to know is that it happens to everyone! Everyone living abroad experiences some sort of homesickness. Just remember why you’re here and how much of a great experience this is! Its ok to miss home, but remember how great it is you’re out here #livingyourbestlife.
Joy Amaefule – Orie
My definition of home sickness feels like a cliché, I was a fish out of water, out of my comfort zone.
When I arrived in Ireland from Nigeria I showed up to school late (3 weeks after classes had started), I felt like I had no landing, I was floating. Where was my home? Was this my new home? How was I going to survive? I didn’t even have a place to live.
There were two things that helped me, no, saved me.
The first thing was/is a program called the First Seven Weeks on UL’s campus; they were my first saving grace. Classes, timetable, housing, map, locating classes in the main building (OMG! That’s a topic for another blog post….it is so complicated.)
The First Seven Weeks were like my own personal tour guide each day, they’d help me every day. I even used their phones on some days. They were like instant friends…..oooh, and I also won a mug on my second day!
But after the FSW, my second saving grace was the Postgraduate Lounge especially the President, Amy. She was so friendly and helpful. She helped me to connect to other students. It really helped me, so I didn’t feel behind, since I had arrived to school so late. I can’t thank her enough. Even after helping me, she continued to check-in with me. She helped to make me feel a part of school. It made my homesickness less prevalent. I could breathe.
These two things were the pillars that helped me to settle in to a life in Ireland and at UL. The homesickness couldn’t overwhelm me because I had these two things lifting me and my spirit up.
I would suggest to any new students that they utilize these amazing tools. Your life will be made 150 percent easier.